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California’s LGBT Legislators Want to Take Away Freedom to Seek Therapy

Last week, AB 2943 passed out of California’s State Assembly with an overwhelming Democrat majority vote.

In another attack on the freedom to live our traditional values, this bill would make it illegal for anyone to sell books, videos, counseling and other services that might help a person overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion.

Despite claims to the contrary by its author, California’s LGBT Caucus Chair, Evan Low, this bill’s language is broad and presents a glaring case of viewpoint discrimination because it allows therapy if the patient and therapist want to confirm the same-sex attraction, but if the attraction is not desired the patient will not be able to receive restorative therapy.

Section 1 (c) “This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice [emphasis added] under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.”

(i) (1) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.  [emphasis added]

(2) “Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding [emphasis added] of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.

Falling under the State’s consumer fraud law, this bill would make it a violation for a pastor to sell books or literature from the church bookstore that address sexual issues from a traditional values perspective, which could quite possibly include the Bible, because it teaches sexual morality and the importance of sexual purity within the confines of marriage between a man and woman.

CLICK to hear Calvary Chapel Chino Hills Pastor, Jack Hibbs, warn of the dangers this bill could present to pastors and churches.  

AB 2943 would legally deny an individual struggling with unwanted feelings — for instance, a heterosexually married man or woman with children or someone whose goal is to reduce their same-sex attractions or behavior — to seek the therapy they desire. It would also be illegal for someone with unwanted gender identity confusion to receive counseling to discover their heterosexual potential.Advocates is already gearing up to fight, should this become law! Our traditional family values are at stake! The freedom to practice our Christian values is at stake! Our churches and pastors could be targeted!

We ask for your support, first with prayer and next, if you are able, with your donations. Please partner with us as we prepare to fight for hurting individuals who deserve the freedom to seek help from whomever they choose!  

If you would like to sign the petition for AB 2943 please go to this page.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Your Prayers Were Heard…All the Way to the U.S. Supreme Court!

There’s so much good to report!

At Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing about free speech, life, and religious liberty, the question was whether a law passed in California could force pro-life clinics and crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for the state’s free abortion program… in up to 13 languages, no less!

Although a lawsuit to stop the statute was struck down by the Ninth Circuit, you may recall back in October 2017, Tyler & Bursch’s pro bono attorneys, with funding from Advocates for Faith & Freedom, prevailed against this law on Free Speech grounds in Riverside County Superior Court in Scharpen Foundation v. Kamala Harris.

Still, California’s Attorney General persisted on defending this discriminatory law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where non-profit legal defense law firms from across the country took the lead.  Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s research and amicus brief played a significant role in its opposition and was mentioned by three Justices at Tuesday’s hearing.

According to the Daily Signal, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether an unlicensed center ran a billboard that read “Choose Life,” would it have to include the disclosure in the same font and in multiple languages? Wouldn’t that be an undue burden?”

A Courthouse News Service article quoted both Justice Alito and Justice Gorsuch.  “If you have a law that’s neutral on its face, but… when you apply all the exemptions, what you’re left with is a very strange pattern, and, gee, it turns out that just about the only clinics that are covered by this [law] are pro-life clinics,” Alito said. “Do you think it’s possible to infer intentional discrimination in that situation?”

While Justice Neil Gorsuch commented that the California law required pregnancy centers to “do the state’s job” at a significant cost to what Advocates for Faith & Freedom’sresearch set out to prove, are mostly nonprofit, pro-life facilities. “Well, but if you’re trying to educate a class of persons about their rights, it’s pretty unusual to force a private speaker to do that for you under the First Amendment,” Gorsuch said.

Commenting right after leaving the Supreme Court hearing with our client, Scott Scharpen, Tyler & Bursch attorney, Robert Tyler was optimistic, saying, “Based on the arguments, it certainly appears that victory is awaiting!”

Unlike Planned Parenthood, non-profit crisis pregnancy centers exist to support women who face difficult or unplanned pregnancies and receive no money or support from the government.  It was apparent the Justices recognized the state’s majority pro-abortion lawmakers targeted these groups.

It was only through your prayers and financial support that Advocates was able to contribute the research and provide the pro bono legal services that we feel certain made a big difference in this case!

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His
unfailing love from me. ~ Psalm 66:20 
(NLT)

As Long As They Continue Their Attack, Advocates Will Continue To Fight!

Nationally, pro-life and religious liberty protections are strengthening.  Yet, with bills like AB569 that ban Christian employers from requiring their employees to be pro-life in practice (as well as adhere to other biblical values), and laws like AB775 that required pro-life birth clinics to advertise for abortion services, California is ground zero for promoting anti-Christian policies through legislation.

Struggling against their own antithetical rhetoric, they voted to remove the requirement to provide one’s biological gender on birth certificates and drivers licenses while, at the same time, declaring anyone who does not believe in their version of global warming a “science denier.”

California’s liberal legislators have become not only an arm, but a hand and a mouth for left-wing special interest groups.
That’s why Advocates for Faith & Freedom is working hard to counter their anti-constitutional, anti-Christian alliances and policies. Below are three important cases we have been fighting on behalf of religious liberty.

Free speech
Advocates attorneys are working side-by-side with other legal organizations by sharing our research from our success on the Scharpen case, submitting an Amicus brief, and more, for the NIFLA v. Becerra case, which will be argued before the High Court on March 20, 2018.

Religious land use
On March 22, 2018, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will submit the opening brief on appeal in the Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship religious land use (RLUIPA) case.

Religious expression
Asked to represent Chino Valley Unified School District in their appeal involving opening school board meetings with an invocation prayer, Advocates for Faith & Freedom gave oral arguments in November 2017 and we’re awaiting the judge’s decision.

As you can see, these cases can sometimes take years to defend and the court fees are costly. Partnering with us in prayer, along with your financial support is important to our success in every case!

“The righteous shall flourish… in courts of our God.” Psalm 92:12-13 NIV

              The good news is that we know God is in charge, so as long as anti-Christian organizations and lawmakers in California continue their attack on religious liberties, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will continue to defend the constitutional rights of Christians.

We Got Another Big Victory for Life & Free Speech!

in Abortion, Advocates in Action, Blog, Cases, Free Speech 0 Comments

You may recall we are representing the Scharpen Foundation in challenging AB775 the Reproductive FACT Act where we filed a lawsuit in both federal and state courts. The California statute requires pro-life pregnancy centers that are Christian-based in just about all cases, to provide women the contact information for where they can get free and low- cost abortions.

After arguing for three hours in the Superior Court in Riverside County on April 6, 2017, the California State Attorney General’s motion to dismiss our case was just denied this last week!

According to the judge, this law “forces the clinic to point the way to the abortion clinic.”

In her ruling, Judge Gloria Trask wrote that “the required notification is compelled speech which on its face violates freedom of speech protected by Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution.”

With funding raised by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, Tyler & Bursch’s lawyers strategically filed the lawsuit in state court because the California State Constitution is supposed to provide greater free speech protection than the First Amendment.

Ms. Nada Higuera, our staff attorney who argued the case, said that “Judge Trask explains that because free speech is involved under the State Constitution, the Court must strictly scrutinize whether the legislation is lawful. After scrutinizing the law, the judge agreed with our analysis that the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech.”

Freedom of expression on public issues should be protected at the highest level.  Therefore, this law should be analyzed using strict scrutiny. The ruling warned that the state’s “ability to impress free citizens into State service in this political dispute cannot be absolute; it must be limited.”

In her ruling, the judge explained that this state-compelled speech “is not merely the transmittal of neutral information.” She agreed with our attorneys that this is not just calorie counting or a health hazard warning on smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. This issue – which is “contentious and raises issues that are religious, cultural, political and legal” – is about the more than four decades-long dispute over abortion.

          The Reproductive FACT Act compels the clinic to “speak words with which it profoundly disagrees” and “places too heavy a burden upon the liberty of free thought.”         

Given the language in the ruling, Tyler & Bursch’s General Counsel Robert Tyler is confident that “while this ruling is not the final judgment, this interim ruling foreshadows what will be the judge’s final decision. She makes her opinion known that the law is unconstitutional.”

   Our next hearing is set for July 21, 2017, where the court will give direction on how our case should proceed – whether the case will actually have a trial or whether it should be simply decided by briefing.

Concurrently, we also represent Livingwell Medical Clinic in federal court. This statute was previously upheld in that case as not violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution before a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit. That case is pending a determination from the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether the High Court will take up our case. Our two-front strategy gives us the ability to win in either federal or state court.

Although it appears that victory is at hand in state court, we would not be able to do any of this without the generous financial support from friends like you. Won’t you please consider donating just $25, $100, $200 or more so we can continue fighting for religious liberties in the courts?

While Advocates for Faith & Freedom depends on our supporters for the funds to fight these important cases, we first and foremost thank you for your continued prayers.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and your donations

Christian Vindicated – WIN in the Ninth Circuit!

in Blog, Cases, Free Speech, Newsletters, Ninth Circuit 0 Comments

I have great news to share with you regarding a case that many of you have followed and supported for many years!

On January 11th, three federal  appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit  issued a final ruling in favor of our  client,  Mark  Mackey, who was arrested back in 2011 for reading the  Bible aloud  in  front of the  California Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet. Read More

Christian Vindicated! Ninth Circuit Finds Arrest Unlawful by CHP Officer

in Advocates in Action, Blog, Cases, Free Speech 5 Comments

Pasadena, CA. Today, three federal appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit issued a final ruling in favor of a Christian man, Mark Mackey, who was arrested for reading the Bible aloud in front of the California Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet, CA in 2011. Read the ruling here.

The CHP Officer, Darren Meyers, erroneously cited Mr. Mackey for violating a state law that forbids the interference with an open business through obstruction and intimidation. The Ninth Circuit rebuked the officer’s fabricated claims in his police report:

Upon arrival, Meyer encountered Mackey reading his bible aloud in a dirt patch, neither obstructing nor intimidating anyone in line. Meyer avers that Mackey was “yelling at the people waiting in line,” “that there was obvious verbal confrontation between the group of men and the people standing in line,” and that the “confrontation was heated and nearing a physical state.” That version of events is completely belied by video and audio footage which does not reveal any confrontations whatsoever, and merely shows Mackey reading the bible aloud somewhat apart from people standing in line.

View the video of the arrest. This story was widely covered by Fox News and many other news outlets shortly after the arrest: Fox News Video.

Representing Mr. Mackey, Advocates for Faith & Freedom filed a federal lawsuit for unlawful arrest arguing the officer had no basis or probable cause to arrest Mr. Mackey. Mr. Mackey offered to dismiss his suit if the CHP simply admitted the arrest was unlawful and agreed to properly instruct its officers. The CHP rejected that offer and Mr. Mackey was instead criminally prosecuted in California state court in the County of Riverside.

View our previous press release that outlines the facts and charges.

However, Mr. Mackey prevailed in the criminal prosecution and was found not guilty of the charges. Thereafter, Mr. Mackey’s federal case continued ending up in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal.

Robert Tyler, who argued in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Mr. Mackey, stated, “An innocent man exercising his religious liberty and free speech was criminally prosecuted based on erroneous claims put forth by a false and deceitful police report. It appears to me that the arrest and prosecution of my client was politically motivated because they did not agree with my client’s speech. But that is exactly why our founders created the First Amendment – to protect even disagreeable speech. Today’s decision renews my hope in the justice system.”

Mark Mackey stated, “Justice still prevails. I am excited that our country is going in the right direction.”

Co-counsel and volunteer criminal defense attorney Nic Cocis commented, “It is refreshing to know that our system still works. The video evidence clearly contradicted the claims of the officer, but it took our appeal to the Ninth Circuit before justice could be realized. The officer and the CHP should be held accountable for their disregard of constitutional liberties.”

NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, Case No. 15-55186

Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts. You can visit our website at www.faith-freedom.com.

Email info@faith-freedom.com to receive press releases. Also, join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our progress in this case and others.

Orange County Board Now Facing Prayer Challenge

in Advocates in Action, Blog, Cases, Free Speech 0 Comments

 

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is suing our client, Chino Valley Unified School District, over CVUSD’s prayer i"Famous saying, In God We Trust, carved in stone."nvocation policy, is expanding its intimidation campaign by setting its sights on another Southern California school board. The anti-religion FFRF has now sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Orange County Board of Education demanding it stop similar prayers before its meetings. It is also insisting that the governing body remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from the wall behind its official dais.

According to the Orange County Register, the letter was sent to the governing board late this summer, and several members of the public expressed their concerns about the practice during meetings earlier this fall. On Nov. 16, however, dozens of local residents urged the board to continue with its prayer policy. In the article, reporter Roxana Kopetman referred to our case and quoted Robert Tyler, founding partner for Tyler & Bursch, LLP and Advocates for Faith & Freedom.

“We’re fighting for the invocations,” the article quoted Robert as saying. “It’s something that’s been going on since the founding of our country.”

Our case is now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court sided with FFRF. After losing at the trial court level, Chino Valley hired Tyler & Bursch to represent them during the appeal, which is expected to be heard late next year. Advocates for Faith & Freedom is helping to underwrite the costs with the Tyler & Bursch legal team.

praying-hands-with-american-flag-graphicWe are confident that we will prevail with the appeal since the U.S. Supreme Court—in the 2014 case Town of Greece v. Galloway—sanctioned the practice of public prayer as long as municipalities use a nondiscriminatory process in selecting the volunteers who offer the prayers. The Orange County policy allows any faith group to pray and randomly selects who will offer the invocation.

In the meantime, we have offered our expertise in representing the Orange County Board of Education in any litigation it may face over its invocation policy. As always, Advocates for Faith & Freedom offers these services pro bono. We appreciate the financial support from friends like you who help make it possible for us to fight these court battles. Thank you!

Victory for this 5th grader and her poem about Jesus!

in Blog, Cases, Free Speech, Public Schools 9 Comments

A public school teacher in Stanislaus County, California, gave a homework assignment to her fifth grade students to write two poems on any subject and turn them in the next day.  Since it was just before the Christmas break, Kali decided to write her two poems about the holiday season.  She wrote one poem about reindeer and another about Jesus. When Kali turned in her assignment the next day, her teacher rejected the poem about Jesus Read More